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Renovation of Library's Main Branch Reaches Milestone

More than three months after flash floods hit Louisville, the Louisville Free Public Library has reached a milestone in its restoration efforts at its main branch. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.Flood water poured into the library on York Street on August 4 and inundated the heating and cooling systems.Since then, the branch has been functioning with temporary heating and cooling systems — marked by the huge yellow tubes snaking around the downtown building.

The library’s north building recently got heat and this week a chiller is being installed for air conditioning.Melanie Lilly is the library’s assistant director."We’re about 50 percent of the way through [the renovation]. We got the new boilers up and running for the north building, so now we have heat," Lilly says. "The south building’s going to take a little longer because we have to do some upgrading on some of the duct work."The library also reopened what it calls its Job Shop — which has employment and career resources and computer classes to improve job skills. The center was closed after the flood.Lilly says the flood required the library to undertake $7 million in renovation costs."It’s one of those things were it was a horrible experience," she says, "but we’re coming back much better off. Replacing all the HVAC equipment, we’re expecting a significant energy savings now."Lilly says installing this new equipment is a milestone in renovation."The next milestone will be getting the getting the walls rebuilt, getting the plaster in and being ready to finish it," she says.Lilly says those efforts will be in the south building that was constructed in 1906.The new chiller cost about $120,000. The library won’t know how much insurance will cover until the renovation is complete. The library’s foundation has raised nearly $200,000 since the flood. Lilly says all work on the branch should be finished by the first of the year.Photo above: Workers remove damaged equipment from the library's main branch to install a new cooling system.